tv 60 Minutes CBS May 22, 2011 8:00pm-9:00pm PDT
captioning funded by cbs, and ford-- built for the road ahead. captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org >> pelley: after a long career in u.s. intelligence, tom drake never imagined he'd be labeled an enemy of the united states. he's been charged with espionage and could spend the rest of his life in prison. why do you think you were charged under the espionage act? that's pretty rare. >> to send a chilling message. >> pelley: to whom? >> to other whistleblowers, to others in the government not to speak out. "do not tell truth to power. we will hammer you." >> pitts: more than 13 million americans are out of work, and
families are hurting. farming is a job many families are turning to-- in some cases, entire families-- because children are legally allowed to work here. how many hours do you work every day? >> ten. >> pitts: and you work ten hours a day, too? >> yeah. >> pitts: and how old are you? >> 13. >> why do you do this kind of work? >> to help my parents. >> we will stand up for our people! >> stahl: say "al sharpton," and most people probably think "loudmouth activist" and "provocateur." that was certainly his image in the '80s and '90s. today, reverend al looks and sounds like a totally different person. >> i think that america and al sharpton has transformed. i think it's a different country, and i think that, therefore, i've become a different person in that context. >> i'm steve kroft. >> i'm lesley stahl. >> i'm bob simon. >> i'm morley safer.
vo: so to show her what she's missing, we built a pc store in her house. julie: (gasp) employee: thanks for dropping in! julie: you've got to be kidding me! this isn't my house anymore! employee: have a little look around! julie: very nice! employee: this one is touchscreen. julie: i like that. so there is no tower anymore? wow! i admit i'm wrong on this account that there is a computer better than mine. vo: new pc in the house julie(to camera): i'm a pc and i'm gonna kill him.
>> pelley: nearly two years before 9/11, america's largest intelligence agency was tracking three of the al qaeda hijackers. but the information, obtained by the national security agency, wasn't analyzed in a way that would uncover the plot. inside the super-secret n.s.a., several analysts and managers believed that the agency had a powerful tool that might've had a chance to head off 9/11. but it wasn't used. one of those agency insiders was thomas drake, who thought that taxpayer money was being wasted on useless intelligence gathering projects while promising technology was ignored. drake tried to get the word out. but now, as a result, he's been charged under the espionage act and could spend the rest of his life in prison. the government says he betrayed his country. tom drake says the only thing he
betrayed was n.s.a. mismanagement that undermined national security. after a long career in u.s. intelligence, tom drake never imagined he'd be labeled an enemy of the united states. as a young airman, he flew spy missions in the cold war. in the navy-- here with president clinton-- he analyzed intelligence for the joint chiefs at the pentagon. later, he worked for defense contractors in the highly technical world of electronic eavesdropping. he became expert in sophisticated, top secret computer software, and ultimately rose, in 2001, to a senior executive job at the national security agency. >> thomas drake: my first day on the job was 9/11. >> pelley: your first day on the job was 9/11? >> drake: was 9/11. n.s.a. went into immediate crisis management mode. we had failed to protect the united states of america. >> pelley: you felt that was a failure of the national security agency? >> drake: the entire national security establishment. it was a failure, a fundamental
systemic breakdown. >> pelley: part of the failure at the national security agency was in its old technology. these pictures from "60 minutes" in 2001 represent one of the only times cameras have ever been allowed inside the nsa. the nsa eavesdrops on the communications of the world, but in the 1990s, it was becoming ineffective, overwhelmed by the explosion of digital data. >> drake: vast volumes of data streaming across all kinds of different networks-- wired, wireless, phones, computers, you name it. >> pelley: and what does that look like to n.s.a., coming into their building in maryland? >> drake: choking on it. just incredible amounts. how do you keep...? even just storing it was becoming a challenge. >> pelley: most of what the agency collected went unanalyzed, including clues pointing to 9/11.
kirk wiebe and bill binney were career n.s.a. intelligence analysts who were working on the problem. >> kirk wiebe: we were greatly saddened and shocked by 9/11, but it didn't come as a total surprise. we knew there was a vulnerability, a lack of understanding of the data that put n.s.a. in a weak position. >> pelley: recognizing that vulnerability in the late '90s, bill binney, a legendary n.s.a. mathematician, led development of a revolutionary computer system to collect, isolate and connect important information like phone calls and financial transactions. its code name was "thin thread". >> drake: thin thread was fundamentally dedicated to collecting and processing and ultimately analyzing the vast streams of digital data. it was a breakthrough solution. >> pelley: binney was pushing to use it even before the attack on america. >> bill binney: we proposed it for january of 2001. >> pelley: nine months before
9/11? >> binney: right. >> pelley: now, there is no answer to this next question, because we'll never know, but if thin thread had been deployed worldwide at the point that it was ready, is there a chance that information could've been picked up that might have headed off 9/11? >> wiebe: indeed. >> binney: absolutely. yeah. >> pelley: absolutely? >> binney: yeah. we had planned on going after all the appropriate targets at the time. >> pelley: al qaeda, osama bin laden, ayman al-zawahari? these were targets that you intended to focus thin thread on, is that correct? >> binney: yes. well, i mean, the whole terrorist network, yeah. >> pelley: and if you had been able to do that? >> binney: well, we would've gotten the data, whatever that was there. >> drake: i believe it's very likely that, at least from the n.s.a. perspective, the critical intelligence related to al qaeda-associated movements would've been detected and reported. >> pelley: it was a chance?
>> drake: it's one of the great tragedies in the history of n.s.a.-- what could have been. >> pelley: after 9/11, tom drake felt america was threatened as long as thin thread was confined to the lab. but others at n.s.a. doubted that thin thread was up to the job. one of them was lieutenant general michael hayden, the head of the agency. hayden wanted to transform the n.s.a., and launched a massive modernization program code named "trailblazer." it was supposed to do what thin thread did and a whole lot more. trailblazer would be the n.s.a.'s biggest project. hayden's philosophy was to let private industry do the job. enormous deals were signed with defense contractors. bill binney's thin thread program cost $3 million; trailblazer would run more than a billion and take years to develop. do you have any idea why general hayden decided to go with trailblazer as opposed to thin thread, which already existed?
>> drake: i believe he was convinced by others that going with a large scale, industrial strength solution was the approach that n.s.a. needed to take. you can't really understand why they would make that kind of a decision without understanding the culture of n.s.a. >> pelley: help me understand it. >> drake: careers are built on projects and programs-- the bigger, the better the career. >> pelley: this might be just another washington tale of competing defense projects and disgruntled losers, except the winner in this case, trailblazer, was in trouble from the start. contractors burned through hundreds of millions of dollars over years, and still couldn't give the n.s.a. the capability it so urgently needed. as cost overruns soared and deadlines were broken, tom drake complained to his superiors.
and then, privately, he informed the intelligence committees on capitol hill. he sought out diane roark, the top republican staffer on the house intelligence committee who was responsible for overseeing the n.s.a.. >> diane roark: first, he tried internally trying to get things changed. he had gone to congress. he went to the senate, as well as the house. >> pelley: he went by the book? >> roark: he went by the book, internally. >> pelley: but roark says that, in the years after 9/11, congressional committees were reluctant to kill any intelligence program, even one as mismanaged as trailblazer. so, roark, bill binney and kirk wiebe took an extraordinary step. they filed a confidential complaint with the department of defense inspector general, calling for an investigation of trailblazer and thin thread. tom drake volunteered to be a witness. >> wiebe: why did we launch the i.g. complaint? out of total abject frustration, knowing that we had something so important to share, and thought we had witnessed wrongdoing that needed to be addressed.
>> pelley: for two years, drake was the most important witness for the inspector general. but in the end, the department of defense investigation was stamped "classified," which hid the trailblazer debacle from public view. as his frustration grew, drake says that he was shocked to learn about something else that was happening at the agency, post-9/11. he learned of a top secret n.s.a. program that became known as "warrantless wiretapping." >> drake: it was no longer necessary to follow the law. a huge pandora's box had been opened up. >> pelley: on orders from the white house, the n.s.a. was listening in on people in the united states without a warrant from a judge. >> drake: and this is where i began to have grave concerns about the decisions that were made to bypass the constitution, willfully and deliberately, as a result of 9/11. i took my grave concerns up with
the general counsel at n.s.a. i spoke with one of their lead attorneys. he said, "don't worry about it, tom. it's all legal." >> pelley: it was legal because the white house said it was legal? >> drake: yes. >> pelley: after four years of reporting through proper channels, drake noticed that the "baltimore sun" newspaper had begun a series of articles about trouble at the n.s.a. >> drake: there's one final step that could be taken, but it was fraught with significant risk. >> pelley: anonymously, drake contacted "baltimore sun" reporter siobhan gorman and became an unnamed source for her articles, starting with this one about thin thread headlined "n.s.a. shelved better program that sifted calls." another article told readers that mismanagement at n.s.a. continued years after 9/11. did you ever communicate classified information to siobhan gorman? >> drake: did not. >> pelley: not once, ever? >> drake: not once, ever. that was one of the fundamental rules. whether it was oral
communication, whether it was written, electronic or, later on, even in hard copy. it was all unclassified, period. >> pelley: but after those articles, the f.b.i. raided the homes of all the people you've met in this story who filed that confidential complaint with the defense department, asking for the trailblazer investigation. >> binney: they came busting in. i was in the shower at the time. and one of them came running up and was... pointed a gun at my eyeballs. and pulled me out of the shower so. >> pelley: he drew a gun on you? >> binney: well, yeah. he had it pointed at my head, yeah. >> pelley: but only drake was charged. he's being advised by the government accountability project, a washington legal organization that defends whistleblowers. drake told us that he knew he'd violated a confidentiality agreement with the n.s.a. and he thought he might lose his job, but the prosecutors charged him under the espionage act, not for divulging classified
information, but for taking classified papers home without permission. he faces up to 35 years. >> wiebe: how does a man see 9/11 happen, know that some part of it is due to corruption and mismanagement, and sleep at night? how does a man do that? he obviously couldn't. >> pelley: prosecutors declined to talk with us, citing the pending case against drake, so we asked washington attorney abbe lowell what the prosecution is trying to prove and what drake's potential defense would be. lowell is not connected to the case, but he is one of the most experienced lawyers in the espionage act. >> abbe lowell: from the government and prosecution's point of view, it's an important case to state that, if you're a government person and if you signed a confidentiality agreement and you've got a security clearance based on your promise to keep our secrets secret, that you don't get the right, as an individual, to decide when that secret should
be kept or not because you've decided that the government is right or wrong about something it wants to do. to the people who are saying this is basically clamping down on information that the public has the right to know about whistle-blowing, it's important because it will see whether or not, if a person has the right motives, has the right intent, whether that is a defense that will work to prevent what is a very, very harsh statute, with very harsh penalties if he were to be convicted. >> pelley: some people watching this interview are thinking to themselves in this moment, "look, he knew what he was doing. he'd been trained. he'd been in the air force, he'd been in the navy. he'd had a top security clearance for many, many years. he knew reaching out to a reporter was wrong under any rules, under any circumstances. and he deserves what he's getting." >> drake: some have said that. on the other hand, i was an employee with the u.s. government, charged with
supporting and defending the constitution, ensuring that the best of america was put in the fight, ensuring that we did so legally, responsibly, and accountably. >> pelley: ultimately, the trailblazer project chewed through more than $1.2 billion, and then was cancelled. the n.s.a. and its former head, general hayden, declined to comment for this story. hayden retired, but in 2006, the day the "baltimore sun" ran one of its articles, he said this to congress. >> general michael hayden: a lot of the failure in the trailblazer program was in the fact that we were trying to overachieve. and that a lot of the failure was we were trying to do too much all at once. >> pelley: after the trailblazer fiasco, congress revoked n.s.a.'s authority to manage large projects for five years. thomas drake goes on trial next month. why do you think you were charged under the espionage act? that's pretty rare. >> drake: to send a chilling message. >> pelley: to whom? >> drake: to other whistle-
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their families by asking their children to work beside them. farming is the one job in america where kids as young as 12 are welcomed, and for their parents, children in the fields are needed. the texas plains, 5:30 a.m. carlos casares gets his two sons ready for the long day ahead. they've come 350 miles from their home in eagle pass, texas, to weed the cotton fields south of lubbock. cody is 13; carlos, jr. 17. >> pitts: what happens if it rains? >> carlos casares: we don't work. it's a day lost because we don't get paid unless we're out here. if it rains, no pay; no work, no pay. >> pitts: in the summer, the boys work alongside their father, work he did when he was their age. all three earn $7.25 an hour, the minimum wage. how many years have you been
doing this? >> carlos casares, jr.: this is my fourth year. >> pitts: fourth year? >> carlos casares, jr.: yeah. >> carlos casares: it's hard for the kids, but... but it's, you know... >> pitts: hard how? >> carlos casares: hard, you know, being it's long, you know, ten hours for them, work, you know, in the... out in the sun. it's hot, you know. and getting up every day, every morning at 5:30 in the morning just to go to work. >> pitts: what were your dreams when you were your sons' age? when you were 13, 17 years old? >> carlos casares: be a truck driver. you know, my dad was a truck driver. i mean, he... he had his own truck. and that's what i wanted to do, have my own trucks. >> pitts: it's a dream that came true for casares. born and raised in texas, he supported his family for 15 years as an independent truck driver. he bought his own home. but when the economy went bad and trucking became less profitable, he went back to the fields. >> carlos casares: i got to do something, and that's the only thing i'm qualified for, because that's what i done all my life. >> pitts: pick fruit.
>> carlos casares: yeah. >> pitts: pick vegetables. >> carlos casares: yeah. >> pitts: the recession put the casares family back in what's called "the migrant stream," the yearly flow of farm workers from texas, florida and california moving north with the harvest. it's the life his parents and grandparents had before him. now, carlos is with his siblings and their kids. sunday is the one day of the week when these children can be children. and then there's monday through saturday, right? >> yeah. >> pitts: what happens then? >> work. >> pitts: work? >> every day. >> pitts: every day? how... how many hours do you work every day? >> ten. >> pitts: ten hours a day? how old are you? >> fifteen. >> pitts: fifteen. and you work... you work ten hours a day, too? >> yeah. >> pitts: you work ten hours a day. and how old are you? >> thirteen. >> pitts: thirteen years old. do you like this work? >> armando: no. >> pitts: why not? >> armando: because it's always hot. >> pitts: armando is 12. why do you do this kind of work? >> armando: to help my parents,
to buy us clothes and school supplies. >> pitts: so the school year, they can be boys? >> carlos casares: yeah. >> pitts: but in the summertime? >> carlos casares: they become men, like me. work out here in the fields. >> pitts: together, he says, they can earn $10,000 to $12,000 in a good summer. that's about as much as he makes driving a truck the rest of the year. how important is it to your family that you guys work? >> carlos casares, jr.: i'd say it's very important, so we can help them all pay the bills and everything. >> pitts: and they're helping in the one place that younger kids can, the farm. the minimum age for most industries in america is 16. but in agriculture, children as young as 12 can be hired to do farm work. outside of school, they can work unlimited hours. >> carlos casares: it's hard. and it breaks my heart for them to be... you know, for... for me to have them out here like that. >> pitts: for those who would say that 13-year-old boys and 12-year-old boys shouldn't have to do this kind of work...
>> carlos casares: then, what would i do? what... where would i live, you know? what would i give my kids? what would they wear? what would they eat? >> pitts: you love farming? >> jeff darnell: yeah, i love farming. it's a noble act, if you do it right. >> pitts: like carlos casares, jeff darnell, a grower in north carolina, is also under financial strain. americans want their fruit and vegetables inexpensive? >> darnell: as cheap as... that they can, and they want the best. >> pitts: small farmers like darnell have not been spared in this economy. >> darnell: hello. >> pitts: during our visit, he took a phone call from his bookkeeper. >> darnell: you got me worried. she intends to foreclose. >> pitts: behind on his mortgage, darnell could lose the family farm. he says it's one more reason why he needs abundant, cheap labor to pick his tomato crop. >> darnell: if i want to eat constantly fresh fruit and vegetables, i need to realize there are people that got to
produce that stuff, and there are people that are having to pick it. they're not on the high side of society, they're not living in the hamptons. but... but if i don't have them people, you won't have that stuff here. >> pitts: darnell hires about 50 farm workers at the peak of the harvest. most come from mexico and central america, like this 16- year-old. she's been working in the fields since she was 13. in your opinion, should a 12- year-old child be doing this kind of work, 12-, 13-, 14-year- old child? >> darnell: a 14-year-old child, 12-year... i mean, if they're out here helping me move an irrigation pipe, i don't see anything wrong with it. >> pitts: but picking tomatoes, picking strawberries. >> darnell: i picked when i was 12. worked for $1 an hour. it was hard, but it didn't hurt me. it not going to hurt your kids to work. work going to help them down the road. >> pitts: norma flores lopez isn't so sure of that. she works for the association of farm worker opportunity programs.
it provides training and education to farm workers nationally. she'd like to see children out of the fields through changes in the law. >> norma flores lopez: we still believe in the value of kids growing up and learning how to be able to earn money. but we feel that at the age of 12 is really, really young, the same way we feel that the age of 12 is really young in any of the other industries. >> pitts: a century ago, child labor in the u.s. was commonplace, from sweatshops and factories to mines. the fair labor standards act was passed in 1938. it took children under 16 out of most workplaces for their safety and welfare. the one exception was agriculture. back then, most farms were small family operations and child labor was considered necessary. today, the number of children legally working on farms is only guessed at. the u.s. department of labor says it might be as high as 155,000. >> frank gasperini: we don't advocate young children working
in sweatshop conditions, whether it's a factory or the farm. >> pitts: frank gasperini is executive vice president of the national council of agricultural employers. it's a washington lobby that represents fruit and vegetable growers. why is this still necessary to have children working on farms at all? >> gasperini: in terms of productivity, it probably isn't. in terms of opportunities for the children, i think it... it is still very valuable. there're a lot of good, safe jobs for 12- and 13-year-olds that give them an opportunity to have early work experience, to earn some money. and sometimes, that's very important for their families. >> pitts: it was important to norma flores lopez and her family. she started working in corn fields at the age of 12. >> lopez: this was in the middle of july, and you're out there ten to 12 hours. i'd work close to 80 hours a week during the peak of the season. and we would work probably about three weeks straight without any days off. >> pitts: so for you, there was nothing romantic about working in the fields as a child?
>> lopez: there wasn't. i mean, you make best of what you got out there, and make it as enjoyable as you possibly can. but the truth is, it's hard work. it's hard, grueling work for very little pay. >> pitts: health insurance? >> lopez: unheard of. >> pitts: overtime? >> lopez: doesn't happen. >> pitts: any kind of benefits? >> lopez: absolutely not. >> pitts: after enduring the heat and hard work, casares' sons-- cody and carlos, jr.-- end their day here, a migrant camp. >> carlos casares: they do need a little work, the walls. >> pitts: the walls move, the roof leaks, and they sleep three to a room. they do it, not because they want to, and not just because they have to; they do it to help their father, and they do it with a dignity that belies their age. it's, like, a teenager's right to kind of gripe about life and be dissatisfied with the things they have to do. but you guys seem okay with it. >> carlos casares, jr.: i really don't complain because i work for what i get, and i see how hard it is to get what you actually want.
so i really don't complain about anything. and i know if i can't have something, but it's okay. >> pitts: you're okay with that. >> carlos casares, jr.: yeah. >> pitts: casares says most of his weekly paycheck goes to cover food and rent. this place costs $50 a week. the family's livelihood depends on what the boys earn. because without them, you wouldn't make any money? >> carlos casares: no. because it would all go here. it's like if i would leave them over there back home, what... what money would i send them? >> pitts: on this day, their earnings were cut short due to rain. potentially, how much money could you lose today? >> carlos casares: about $40 apiece. >> pitts: can you make that money up, at some point? >> carlos casares: yeah, we could work on sundays, but that's the day off that i like to give to my kids. >> pitts: cody, carlos, jr., and their cousins are the fourth generation in their family to work the farm fields of america. their parents don't want there
to be a fifth. >> carlos casares, jr.: that's the reason they bring us here-- to see how hard it is. it's better to just finish college, they tell us. be easier. >> get an education. >> pitts: but getting that education can be a struggle. government studies show that young farm workers drop out of school at four times the national average. and the boys face not only statistics, but a tough economy. despite the odds and the obstacles, they still believe. what do you dream of, what do you want to do when you finish school? >> armando: i want to be a vet. >> pitts: a veterinarian? how about you, man? >> a football player or a lawyer. >> pitts: a football player or a lawyer. so you guys really do believe you're going to college? >> yes. >> pitts: that you're not going to do this kind of work? >> no. >> no, sir. >> pitts: so you're going to break that cycle? >> carlos casares, jr.: yes, we are. >> new generation. >> pitts: sorry? >> make a new generation. >> pitts: you believe in hard work. >> carlos casares: oh, yeah, i do. it will pay one day. you know, when i see my kids, if they go to college and become something, that's... that'll be my reward.
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for president obama and his agenda. today, reverend sharpton looks and sounds like a totally different person. >> reverend al sharpton: we will stand up for our people. >> stahl: reverend al 20 years ago in new york... >> sharpton: no sinning and grinning. pay for your deeds. >> stahl: ...hot headed in his jogging suits, larger than life in every way, spreading hate and dividing the city. >> sharpton: no justice, no peace. >> stahl: but take a look at reverend al today after a meeting with the president. 83 pounds slimmer, stately in his tailored suits, commanding a national stage. >> sharpton: i think the meeting was very candid. >> stahl: not only does he travel to see the president, the president travels to see him. >> sharpton: barack obama. >> stahl: in april, mr. obama was a keynote speaker at reverend sharpton's civil rights organization, the national action network's, fundraiser in new york.
>> president barack obama: i told the reverend al backstage, he is getting skinnier than me... >> stahl: this presidential endorsement, this validation, is an acknowledgement of al sharpton's influence with the president's african american base. >> obama: i am living testament that change is possible. >> sharpton: i think that america and al sharpton has transformed. i think it's a different country, and i think that, therefore, i've become a different person in that context. >> stahl: and are we a different country because we elected a black president? >> sharpton: i think we are a different country, over a period of time. we started doing a lot of things that we... black c.e.o.s of fortune 500 companies. i think america grew. and i grew. >> stahl: sharpton told us that having a black president is a challenge-- if he finds fault with mr. obama, he's aiding those who want to destroy him. so he's decided not to criticize the president about anything, even black unemployment that's twice the national rate.
have you told other blacks not to criticize him publicly? >> sharpton: what i've told them is to be genuine about it. there are some blacks that said, "he needs to go with a black agenda. he needs to do this." he said when he was running he wasn't going to do that. duh, surprise. >> stahl: but just because he didn't campaign on improving unemployment in black areas, why aren't you out there saying, "we need more done?" >> sharpton: what i don't want to see is, because he's black, that we act like he's not the real president. "he ought to be leading the black cause or the labor cause"- - he's the president. to minimize who he is, i think is an insult to the achievement of having him there. >> stahl: given his loyalty and his change from confrontational to accommodating, the administration is rewarding him with access and assignments, like making him a spokesman for their education policy, and sending him on the road with newt gingrich, of all people, to
build support for hiring better teachers. sharpton says 15, 20 years ago, he would've been looking for a fight with a guy like gingrich. in those days, he was brawling all over the place, even on television. >> sharpton: i've learned to pick my fights, and also to be more strategic about my fight plan. doesn't mean it's not the same fight, but it means i'm a different and i'm a more seasoned fighter. >> stahl: so if someone were to put a couple of adjectives in front of your name today, "agitator" should not be one of those names. >> sharpton: say "refined agitator." >> stahl: here's the refined agitator in a candlelight march in arizona, expanding his portfolio with latinos, standing up against the state's immigration law. >> sharpton: this is about a state law that is unconstitutional. a lot of positions i take now,
no one would've thought i would've taken. who would have thought, 20 years ago, i'd be leading a march for immigration? or that i would support same-sex marriage, which most black church people don't? so i think that a lot of people are stuck in time. thankfully, i'm not. >> stahl: the new al sharpton has evolved, in some ways that surprised us. for instance, one of his favorite haunts is the havana room, a fancy private midtown cigar club whose other members are mostly white wall street bankers and the city's elite. you're a civil rights leader, representing all that that suggests... implies. and then, there's this other side of you. you live in fancy place. >> sharpton: first of all, i don't see that as a contradiction, this idea that we have to only be in one area. we fought for access. so why wouldn't we use access? civil rights has nothing to do just with poor people-- civil rights, everybody has a problem.
racial profiling, one of the things that i became known for, came to me from people who had huge multi-million homes in new jersey, because blacks were being stopped in their mercedes benz. >> stahl: he smokes cigars here during the week, but on many weekends, he's preaching. >> sharpton: some of y'all want friends that ain't never had a problem. >> stahl: he doesn't have his own congregation, so, like martin luther king, jr., he told us, he preaches at a different black church almost every sunday. >> sharpton: i like folks that been knocked down and shamed and disgraced, and somehow god picked them up and cleaned them off and brought them back. >> say it, preacher. >> stahl: reverend al actually started preaching when he was just four. >> sharpton: who are you and who am i before god? >> stahl: he was raised in a middle class section of brooklyn. when he was ten, his life was turned upside down when his father abandoned the family. >> sharpton: he had a child with
my half-sister. >> stahl: whoa, whoa. he had a child with your half- sister? >> sharpton: with my mother's child. >> stahl: when his father left, he and his mother were forced onto welfare. >> sharpton: we became a laughing stock. every kid on the block used to point at us, laughing. "their lights are out, his father's gone. they repossessed the cadillac." it was a haunting experience, and it made me have a lifelong search for fathers. >> stahl: and for attention, he said. >> black power! >> he made his mark as a civil rights leader in new york in the 1980s by leading angry marches. they led to change, but this one nearly caused a race riot. people have said that you're a hate monger, a racial ambulance chaser, a shakedown artist, a race baiter. did you go too far? >> sharpton: no.
>> stahl: you don't regret any of the things you said back then? >> sharpton: if you want to say that i used language sometimes that i shouldn't, yes. if you want to say that i had more vanity than i should've, yes. but don't say that i was a hater and violent, because i was never that. >> stahl: when sharpton was in his 20s and 30s, there were allegations of mob ties-- never proved-- and charges he used his civil rights organization to shake down businesses for contributions, which he denies. >> wayne barrett: i think he has been a hustler all of his career. >> stahl: wayne barrett, an investigative reporter with "the daily beast," has written about sharpton for more than 20 years. >> barrett: i think he's in the civil rights business, i don't think he's a civil rights leader. i think he's in the business. he has an organization called the national action network. nobody knows what happens to all that money. >> stahl: an i.r.s. audit would later show that he and his organization failed to pay $2.8 million in federal and state taxes. and then, there was the issue he's most known for. >> tawana brawley: my name is
tawana brawley. i'm not a liar and i'm not crazy. >> stahl: it was 1987. tawana brawley was a 15-year-old who claimed she was raped by six white men in law enforcement. and al sharpton took up her cause. but there was no forensic evidence of any sexual attack, and there was evidence tawana made up the whole story. the case, labeled a hoax, was dismissed, and sharpton was forced to pay $65,000 to those he had named. but in all this time, he has never voiced any regret. you have gone back and looked at things with such a clear eye. you've apologized. you've asked for forgiveness, except on tawana brawley. i don't get it. >> sharpton: i'll be honest with you. i have thought about that a million times. i just don't believe they treated that case fair. >> stahl: if i knew that i had, in any way, contributed to falsely accusing someone, i
think i would feel an obligation to say i'm sorry. >> sharpton: i think you're right. i think the operative word is, "if you knew that." i don't know that. >> stahl: if they didn't do it... >> sharpton: but "if." but suppose they did >> stahl: but you're talking... but you're taking the... >> sharpton: suppose they did. >> stahl: but they didn't. they didn't. you still think they might have done it, is what you're saying. >> sharpton: i still say that there is area there that makes me believe something happened. >> barrett: he's not going to apologize because, to him, this is playing to that core constituency, however small it is of his-- that white america wants him to apologize, and he is not going to apologize. if you add up brawley, federal tax liens-- you put all these things together, would anybody else be able to transcend that and be this larger-than-life figure? >> stahl: he has. >> barrett: only because we let him. >> sharpton: keeping it real. keeping it real. i'm your host, reverend al sharpton.
>> stahl: the new al sharpton has a nationally syndicated radio talk show. on the air three hours every weekday, he reaches a large, mainly black audience. >> sharpton: it gives me an advantage over most civil rights leaders. i talk to people every day. i know where people are. >> stahl: he still gets questions about how he makes his money. well, he now earns over a million dollars a year at his radio show, plus paid speeches. and he's paid off the $2.8 million he owes in back taxes. but he says his big personal transformation moment came the day he picked up the phone and spoke to his father for the first time in 45 years. why did you call him? >> sharpton: i had a chip on my shoulder, i guess. "why did he leave me behind?" and you know, i went through school and graduations and all, and he wasn't there. and i resented him. but i didn't realize how much i resented it until i reached out and realized that all of that i was carrying in me.
>> stahl: he told us that he used to think about getting in the newspapers. now, older, more comfortable with himself, he's thinking about history. >> sharpton: and history is not made by guys than can just make the headline the next day. history is made by people that can help make change happen. >> stahl: and stay in the game. >> sharpton: and change the game. not just stay in the game, change the game. i've been everything good that my friends say, and mostly everything bad my enemies say. but right now, i think i'm on the right time to help make a difference. something new from stouffer's. new stouffer's sautes for two. mmm... this deserves... wine. [ female announcer ] now inspiring meals like grilled chicken asiago tortelloni.
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>> safer: we're sad to report the death of a truly great reporter-- joe wershba, one of the founding producers of this broadcast. i was lucky enough to have worked with him on more than 50 "60 minutes" stories. tonight, andy rooney remembers joe wershba. >> rooney: joe wershba, a great and much loved "60 minutes" producer, and a good fried of mine, died last saturday. joe was 90 years old.
i remember writing this about joe 33 years ago, soon after a fancy party was thrown to celebrate the tenth anniversary of "60 minutes". at the party in 1978, each of the four correspondents at the time said a few words. william paley, the chairman of the board of cbs, spoke, as did countless other cbs executives. don hewitt, the executive producer of "60 minutes," spoke. after all the important people had finished, a spontaneous cry went up from the crowd of 150 people in the room. "wershba! wershba! wershba!" they yelled. joe got to his feet with a smile on his face and got the biggest round of applause of the evening. what had joe wershba done to deserve all this? well, he'd been the best among them at "60 minutes," that's all. and he was for 20 years. television critics and competing broadcasters from other networks have searched for the secret of the success of "60 minutes".
some think it's the mix of the correspondents. some give all the credit to don hewitt, or to bill leonard, who was the cbs news president when it started. the fact is, "60 minutes" has been as good, substantial and successful as it is because it has some great producers, and joe wershba was the most loved among them. >> safer: i'm morley safer. we'll be back next week with another edition of "60 minutes." captioning funded by cbs, and ford-- built for the road ahead. captioned by whatcha doing? not much -- just brewing up some dunkin' donuts coffee. want some? [ whoosh ] i'd love some. one taste, and you'll understand. delicious dunkin' donuts coffee. mm! good! pick some up where you buy groceries. america runs on dunkin'. try the big flavor of dunkin' turbo today.
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